Sunday, December 25, 2011

Santa Express Chocolates Christmas Diorama

Our little shelf display is nice and features the wonderful work of Howard Lamey, but if you want to see some gorgeous putz's check out these:

Santa Express Chocolates Christmas Diorama

First of all, Merry Christmas one and all! For those who don't celebrate Christmas have a Wonderful Holiday Yule Time Season.

This 'small', 'quick' project actually started out as a joke about two weeks ago. I saw this box of chocolates in the store and noticed a North Pole Village printed on the back of the box. I scanned the box and posted the scans to a couple of the Yahoo Groups I belong to saying I had bought a new Christmas Train Set complete with Village! Ha ha

But then I got to looking at those village graphics on the box back and wondered if they could be used in some nifty way as a display. That led to me gathering scraps of cardboard. Which led to more thinking. Which led to buying some materials. Which led to....   Okay, you get the message. This entire project was done on the fly. Nothing except the basic concept was really planned and I kept adding elements as I went along. I never kept track of the time spent, but it's around 6 hours. It really is a nice little craft project for kids and not a bad one for adults either, so here goes: Enjoy!

The first step is to cut out the buildings to get a good feel for how big the base should be:

Ultimately, several different thicknesses and types of cardboard were used for this project. Corrugated cardboard was used for the first step. Taking some tips from Howard Lamey's Little Glitter Houses site, I glued up three layers of corrugated cardboard to form the base, each layers' corrugations being glued at right angles to the next. Howard uses at least four layers but I chose to do three, just because. (The measurements were derived from how large a base could be made to accommodate three of the village buildings side-by-side and still be able to fold a piece of white bond paper over the cardboard and cover the sides).

Next, a strip of thinner cardboard taken from a cereal box was glued around the edges of the base. NOTE: When gluing any printed cardboard to a project generally the printed side is the side which will be glued to the adjoining piece. In this way, the plain cardboard faces out. HOWEVER, the glossy surface of the printed side means that you must allow for longer drying times when using standard household white glue. A good deal of the time spent on this diorama was spent waiting for glue to dry.

The cardboard base is centered over the white bond paper and registration marks on the paper are lightly made using a pencil. Then the cardboard gets a coat of glue and placed on the paper within those registration marks. Put a weight on the base to ensure the whole thing doesn't curl up on you. I didn't place nearly enough weight on mine and there is a slight bend, but it's not too bad. Also, allowing the project to dry REALLY well while under weight will help to prevent warping. Next, the sides of the paper are NEATLY folded over the edges and glued to the edges of the cardboard. Any excess paper can be carefully trimmed using either a hobby knife or single edge razor blade. BE CAREFUL - cut the paper, not your fingers!!

This photo shows the paper already having been applied and a strip of heavier cardboard glued to the back edge. This was one of those 'on-the-fly' decisions. I wanted the buildings to be raised slightly as if they were on a neighborhood block. The cardboard used was a real stiff kind - it came out of a raggedy old 3-ring binder cover. 

Next, the stiff piece of cardboard was given a couple of coats of white latex paint. My paint was kind of thin but I couldn't find the thicker stuff in the house - it was buried somewhere!. A thicker paint would have given the cardboard a brighter, whiter look as the thinner paint tended to soak into the cardboard. I also thought it would be neat to add a street, so a piece of black construction paper was glued down just in front of the thicker piece.

The next step was to make some trees.These were simple affairs made from green heavy-duty Scotch-Brite Pads (I chose the heavy duty ones because they were thicker). The 'trunks' are made from bamboo skewers.

The pads are cut in a triangle shape  in a variety of sizes.

The pointy ends of the skewers are cut off. It's easier to poke these into the bottom of the 'trees'. The trunks are painted brown using a Crayola brown marker.

Okay, I got busy working on the diorama and didn't take many in-between shots but here's what I did:

The Base
- White glue was spread on the front edge and two sides, and pink glitter applied. (The glitter I bought came in a three-pack: fine white, coarse white, and pink. This stuff was kind of pricey so I didn't buy any more packs with different colors. Wanting to use what I bought, I thought the pink glitter would be a nice contrast).

The Trees
- Using the trunk I first poked a hole into the tree bottom
- The tree trunks were painted
- Placed some white glue into the hole
- Inserted the trunk
- Painted a portion of the tree top white
- When the paint dried, put some glitter glue on the painted area
- Spread glitter on the tree top

The Base (Again)
- Glued the buildings on the base
- Decided to make train tracks to go in front of the North Pole Station
- The ties (sleepers) were made from small pieces of thin cardboard colored with the Crayola brown marker
- The rails were made from two pieces of bamboo skewers with the tips cut off. They were colored black using a Sharpie felt tip marker and glued to the ties (sleepers)
- Decided to make hedges. Using the Scotch-Brite pads, cut some thin strips to represent them. Painted them and applied glitter as on the trees.
- Glued hedges in place
- Trees were 'planted'. Because the heavy cardboard was too hard to just press the trees into it, I had to actually drill holes in the base before gluing the trees to the base

The Background
- The background is a piece of blue foamcore cut to fit the back of the base
- A star was first painted in using the white paint
-  When the paint dried, glitter was applied
- 'Mountains' were cut out of a piece of white poster board and glued to the backdrop 
- The backdrop was then glued to the base

And there you have it - a simple Christmas diorama based on a simple cardboard village, from the back of a simple box of chocolates. Simple! LOL

I hope you enjoyed this project and that you have a safe and wonderful Holiday Season!!
Frohe Weihnachten Familie Berg